Bus operators need to be able to turn their data into actionable insights so they can achieve that fine balance of providing a bus service which passengers want to use, a place where staff want to work and efficiency levels that maintain profitability.
Data is key in achieving this but data on performance measurements is not enough on its own.
Identifying trends in your data
Bus operators have more data now than ever. Having the ability to analyse this data in one place is vital and unlocks the potential to view different datasets together that have only been considered in isolation previously.
An obvious example is being able to review schedules versus punctuality and feed back into the scheduling and network review process, but further analysis can go much deeper. For example, overlying punctuality with driver sign-on data may reveal that punctuality problems stem from driver lateness for a duty rather than the timetable. The fix, therefore, is very different.
Identifying trends and drilling down into root cause analysis can help operators answer some key operational questions. Is driver fatigue having an impact on accident rates? Could a longer minimum layover provide more loading time on a popular town centre route? Would a smaller vehicle be more efficient in congested areas? This can also help operators ask the big questions. Do our buses fulfil customers’ needs while making a profit?
Typically, a root cause would come down to one of a few classifications: a vehicle issue, timetable issue (schedule), a driver issue or an external factor such as congestion or weather.
Customer complaints is a good starting point for investigating root causes and identifying trends. By analysing complaint data with all other data sources available to an operator, unexpected patterns could be identified. Perhaps there is a correlation of complaints with a certain vehicle, a certain driver or due to certain external conditions. Drilling down further could identify a training or knowledge gap, a failing of a supplier or a lack of correct infrastructure.
Combining datasets to resolve issues
Identifying root cause impacts the way we can resolve problems. We could identify potential improvements to customer satisfaction by changing our training programme or holding more stock of a certain bus part. We can also use data analysis for positive engagement with external stakeholders and local authorities. Particularly where working in Enhanced Partnerships or as part of Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) operators can demonstrate where local authority or third-party investment could provide maximum impact. So, providing a bus shelter in a certain location could resolve the root cause of several problems faced by the operator.
What might surprise operators is that this is simple to do with the right tools. With a solution that can bring multiple datasets together into one place, make sense of them and present the data in simple, easy-to-digest formats, an operator can have insights they never had before. It can identify previously unknown or unseen trends and correlations and help identify root causes of problems and complaints. With quality data from multiple sources, we can quantify and qualify the impacts of decisions by measuring trends over time.
Furthermore, the same data can be used to measure the impacts of changes made. Did changes to the training programme reduce complaints? Did retaining more stock of a certain bus part reduce operation issues, breakdowns and complaints? It is an important outcome of a BSIP to be able to measure the success of actions taken.
How we can help
With over 30 years’ experience in software and consultancy services, EPM Group has comprehensive knowledge of the bus industry and well-established software that can combine and analyse a wider, richer dataset to bring new insights.
The EPM Insights solution empowers you with actionable management information on your network performance, supporting you to react to both the changing nature of demand and to help shape your future network.
To book a free consultation to see how we can assist with your challenges and requirements, complete the online form or call 0161 683 3100.